W0394 [DR.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN'S VALEDICTORY OR FAREWELL ADDRESS
Apr 6 1827
From: Stoneham, Massachusetts, [U.S.A]MY DEAR PUPILS
The time is now come that I must leave you and be assured that it is with emotions more easily imagined than described that I take the last endearing look and affectionate farewell of you with whom I have been so long connected and for whom I have felt so deep an interest. The ties of friendship are too strong to be severed without emotions tender and painful. And permit me feeling it may be the last opportunity I shall ever have to address you to make a few remarks as a testimony of my regard for your future welfare.
And first I would turn your attention to education. You are now forming your character and habits for future life and the current in which your minds are now turned you will be likely to follow when you shall have arrived at maturer years. How important then that you begin early to take heed of your conduct even at your first setting out in life before you shall have committed any fatal and irretrievable errors. You are daily exposed to innumerable evils. You should strictly guard against those snares and vices which are spread thick around you and ever seek to avoid their harmful influences which so often prove fatal to the inadvertent and unwary youth, and by a steady and upright course to secure to yourselves the esteem of your fellow man and the favour of your God.
The two first great principles of education are to think right and act well. These are the foundations of all moral and intellectual improvement. Take away these and you may labour in vain to obtain that knowledge which will be useful to you here and point out to you a happy hereafter. You are now in the seed time of your life and we have a sure promise that whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. During our probationary state we are frequently exercised with sorrows and afflictions which no human eye could foresee nor prevent, had they foreseen them. Our paths are beset thick with sorrows and dangers which at first may seem hidden from view but they rise in progression before us as we advance from the cradle to a state of manhood.
The present is the most interesting period of your lives, your minds are now tender and susceptible of impression and it is important that you firmly establish yourselves in good principles before your minds are tainted with vice or you shall have become familiar with scenes of dissipation. Soon you will go forth into the world without any parent or guardian to direct your steps. Soon you will be permitted to conduct your own affairs. And you may perhaps launch forth with a favourable breeze proudly anticipating a prosperous voyage through life, your hearts beating high with youthful animation regaling yourselves (as it were) among beds of roses and basking in the full sunshine of imaginary pleasure. But per chance you shall have hardly tasted those ideal dreams of happiness, the winds of adversity begin to blow, the waves of trouble roll thick around, the darkening cloud gathers over your head, the storm breaks upon you, and all your promised joys together with your possessions of fortune are wrested from you by the passing tempest, and you have nothing left to control you but your intellectual acquirements. These will abide you as long as the use of your reason remains. Avail yourselves then of every opportunity to store your minds with useful knowledge and not only the knowledge which will be useful to you here but that which will secure your eternal interest beyond the grave.
Education regarding man as a rational, accountable and immortal being, elevates, expands and enriches his mind, cultivates the best affection of his heart, pours a thousand sweet and endearing streams around the dwellings of the poor as well as the mansions of the rich, and it greatly multiplies the enjoyments of time, and helps to train up the soul for the bliss of eternity.
But let me here remark that human knowledge is not sufficient to satisfy an immortal mind. There is a higher attainment, a more noble possession which alone can give satisfaction to the soul though I would not discourage you from the pursuit of human knowledge yet let it be remembered that this alone will not support you in the hour of dissolution. I would recommend to you to read such books as have been written by good authors. But in all your reading let not your Bible be neglected. Other books may raise you to eminence but the Bible alone can guide you to mansions of rest when all these shall fail. Read your Bible, then read it with attention--Trample not on the truths of that sacred book but treasure them up in your hearts.
Let your daily walk be regulated by its precepts and in so doing you will not err. We have been frequently reminded of our mortality by the death of our associates and I cannot forbear mentioning one that has occurred since my connection with you. One of our members that first assembled with us is now sleeping beneath the silent clod. The voice of the grave speaks with a language though silent yet powerful. The grave has eloquence, its language speaks in silence louder than divines can preach. Yes it speaks to us and with accents louder than human, says here too you must smartly rest your aching head and repose your weary limbs in my cold embrace.
Oh it is a gloomy mansion. But it is to be our bed but a night. The grave cannot always hold us. No, after a long dark and moonless night the day star will arise and the day dawn on the gloom of the grave and we shall awake and Oh may we arise to a happy immortality. Time with its eagle flight is rapidly hurrying us down its current, it has brought to the close of one period after another and now to the close of our present term and it is with inexpressible satisfaction that I can now conscientiously say that during my connection with you that you have manifested to me the respect and those kindlier feelings of good will which are ennobling to the character of youth and deserving my approbation.
And in return I affectionately tender you my thanks and best wishes for your future welfare. And now my dear pupils, I must bid you farewell and what under it is still more affecting to me is the reflection that to all probability it will be a last farewell. Yes, there is no probability that we will ever meet together again till that eventful day when we shall have passed the solemnities of death and the grave when with an assembled universe we shall meet in the eternal world. May we so spend the intervening time that we shall meet there in peace. May divine wisdom direct you in all your doings and in all your ways. May the presence of God go with you and when our earthly career shall be ended may we rest in the paradise of God.
April 6, 18
1 Stoneham is north of Boston, midway between Boston and Bradford Academy at Haverhill, where Calvin received his teaching certificate. He was likely teaching at Stoneham before entering Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine in 1927 to study medicine. In other documents we have indicated the location of Bradford Academy as being in Bradford, though perhaps officially it should be Haverhill.